A senior Northland road safety official hopes the government's proposed new road safety strategy aimed at cutting road deaths will mean the region's roads are brought up to highway standard.
The strategy, called Road to Zero and based on Sweden's Vision Zero strategy, which seeks to eliminate road deaths, was been put out for consultation yesterday.
Northland's road toll so far this year stands at 18.The key focus of the strategy was improving roading infrastructure but not in the manner that the previous government had done. It also meant improving existing roads, rather than building new ones.
The government was aiming to improve the safety in more than 1500km of road over the nest three years, at a cost of $1.4 billion which included building median barriers and side barriers, adding rumble strips and making other safety upgrades.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said over the period of the 10 years that the strategy was in place, it was expected to save 750 lives, and thousands of serious injuries.
Northland Regional Transport Committee chairman John Bain said anything that cut Northland's abhorrent road toll had to be a good thing.
"The priority is to get our roads fit for purpose and of the quality where we are able to drive highway speeds. Our section of State Highway 1 should be brought up to a standard equal to that between Hamilton and Cambridge," Bain said.
"We want more than our fair share of the budget as Northland has been left behind by successive governments."
He said a 22km section of highway that was a high priority was from Toetoe Rd, south of Whangarei, to the roundabout with Port Marsden Highway near Ruakaka.
Another who agreed that section of SH1 needed attention was Springfield Rd resident Joy Price, who had lived overlooking the Highway for the last 65 years.
Her husband Lance had lived there for 90 years before he passed away a couple of years ago.
"We've had two people die in crashes recently just below the house. With the latest one I could see the traffic backing up and the fire engines, police and two ambulances."
Price said any work on the highway that made it safer was beneficial but she supported the construction of a four-lane highway.
"In the long run it would have to be the best option as Northland is becoming a very popular place and that road is only getting busier."
Sweden's Vision Zero approach, which New Zealand will replicate, assumes that drivers make mistakes regardless of the quality of the driver.
Humans, it assumes, are flawed and will make errors.
As a result, the strategy will take the driver out of the equation and try to make things safe regardless of inevitable mistakes and crashes, limiting the damage.
Despite that, the government will review driver licensing.
"We will be doing a full review of the licensing system," Genter said.
The government will also review the Warrant of Fitness and Certificate of Fitness systems, which haven't had a thorough review for two decades.
Genter said the process of vehicle inspections will be looked at, and whether modern safety systems in cars should be reviewed as part of the car testing.
Police would get more funding as part of a new strategy, which could lead to more dedicated road policing and an increase in safety cameras.
"If we are going to achieve our target, if we adopt the target of 40 per cent, then there will be a need for increased investment in enforcement," Genter said.
"Some of that will be automated, and some of that will be police having a role to play in improving safety on our roads."
More police and more cameras doesn't mean more money generated in fines, however.
Genter said she hopes that people won't be fined by static speed cameras, or new point to point cameras, if they are added to the network.
Compliance was the end game, and she said there will also be a review of the penalties given to drivers caught by a camera or a police officer.
The new road safety strategy is available to view on the Ministry of Transport website.
The consultation period will run for four weeks, closing on August 14.